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Thread: Bilbo's boots

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In Tolkien's illustrations for The Hobbit, Bilbo wears black boots. Any info on how and where Bilbo got them? He starts bare-footed (like all Hobbits), but appears wearing boots in the illustration "Bilbo Woke Up with the Early Sun in His Eyes" where he's in the eagle nest, and wears boots for the rest of Tolkien's illustrations for this book, save the last one. Did Tolkien intend to mention the matter in the text, but forgot?

There was an intended 'booting' it seems. Letter 27 (1938):

'There is in the text no mention of his acquiring of boots. There should be! It has dropped out somehow or other in the various revisions -- the booting occurred at Rivendell; and he was once again bootless after leaving Rivendell on the way home.' JRRT   JRRT


However John Rateliff (The History of The Hobbit) could find no such draft text, and proposed the possibility that Tolkien had intended to add this, but never did (aside from the possibility of the description actually being lost of course).

By the way I might add that Tolkien's letter concerns the first edition Hobbit (noting the date)... so, for whatever reason he didn't add the detail in revised editions.

Boots rather negate the whole reason for curly hairy feet. And also immediately casts my mind to Beatrix Potter and her darling characters who liked clothing and little shoes.  It would somehow , to my mind, jar. shiver.

I can't remember where, but I remember a reference to one Hobbit who was so huge he could ride a full sized horse and wore boots, could it have been Bandobras Bullroarer? A great hobbit who killed an Orc in the Battle of Greenfields.

Regarding Bandobras Took....

From TFotR

According to the Red Book, Bandobras Took (Bullroarer), son of Isengrim the Second, was four foot five and able to ride a horse. He was surpassed in all Hobbit records only by two famous characters of old....

From the Hobbit

If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any Hobbit, even to Old Took's great-grand-uncle Bullroarer, who was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul's head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented in the same moment.

These are the two most detailed descriptions I have found of Bullroarer Took, but I'm afraid no mention of boots in them.

I have a had a look through a more recent illustrated edition of the Hobbit (illustrations by Alan Lee), but Bilbo appears bootless throughout this edition. Interesting that Tolkien illustrated him with boots in the first edition though.

Bilbo wouldn't have been the only Hobbit to wear boots...


'The Hobbits of that quarter, the Eastfarthing, were rather large and heavy-legged, and they wore dwarf-boots in muddy weather. But they were well known to be Stoors in a large part of their blood, as indeed was shown by the down that grew on their chins. No Harfoot or Fallohide had any trace of a beard.'

JRRT, the Prologue Concerning Hobbits, The Fellowship of the Ring


Nice find, Galin. I could have only been a page away from that quote when I was looking for the text about Bullroarer Took. I think I was focusing too much on Bullroarer and got tunnel vision..

Thanks Val and Galin. I love the rabbit hole invention of Golf. Don't know why or where, but I still have a memory of a Hobbit wearing shoes or boots. Perhaps it was in relation to Bree... This is going to annoy me forever unless someone can find it! lol

Tolkien always was full of mysteries and unexplained things. He is like a puzzle and a great mystery right within that genius brain of his.

I wish that Smeagol would have worn pants like in the book, in the book he had a pocket!

Yes Brego it was Bandobras Bullroarer.